The Current of Amazon’s Customer Service

Deep in the Heart of Amazon

Intrepid explorer Jeff Bezos guides you through the sopping groves filled with gangly jumbles of trees. The mist of this foreign land saddles your clothes with droplets thick as morning dew, but you press on, deeper and deeper into the pulsating heart of the jungle… Suddenly, with a quick two-step side-turn, you’ve wound up in a different kind of jungle altogether—the Internet shopping hub know as Amazon.com.

Founded in 1994 by our dear explorer Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States, as well as one of the largest in the world. It continues to push both the retail and the tech market forward with great heave-hos, revolutionizing not only how customers shop online, but also how they shop in the real world. An Internet mogul of such prowess should thus have some kind of representation on social media, right? Especially when it comes to customer service.

Not All Jungles Are Created Equally

According to a customer satisfaction survey conducted by Temkin in 2014, Amazon.com comes in second place for overall customer satisfaction with customer service of companies in the US. That’s not too shabby, especially for being as big of a company as Amazon just happens to be. But how does that translate to their presence on social media?

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Here’s one convo of @AmazonHelp with a curious customer on Twitter. As you may observe with your visual receptors, Amazon responded to the customer’s Tweet within 30 minutes, and then continued the conversation until the customer was finished with their questions. You may also notice that Amazon does indeed have a Twitter handle created specifically to answer customer questions and solve customer problems. I would wager they encounter questions on their other pages as well, but if you want to receive customer service, they will direct you to this Twitter account where you can find aid promptly.

What strikes me here is that multiple employees at Amazon.com handled this conversation, both of whom responded with helpful and sincere answers. If I were to make another wager, I’d say that multiple employees handled this account not because of confusion, but because of how intently they were responded to other customers’ questions. In the time it took this customer to respond to ^CD’s answer, ^CD was already working with another customer, so ^JF marched right up and continued the action.

Teeming with Life and Replies

Because screenshots are the veritable bomb, here’s another one:

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Now, what is this thing doing here? Well, it’s here to illustrate how Amazon.com is the veritable bomb when it comes to customer service. Look at the recency of those replies! They answer customer questions and general Tweets almost every minute, if not sometimes more often. Observing their track record, while @AmazonHelp had only responded to 6 out of the 10 most recent Tweets (60%) when I was writing this article, those Tweets had happened in the last 13 minutes. Before that time, they had responded to each and every Tweet asking for genuine help. That’s being on the ball.

Perhaps you don’t shop at Amazon.com all that often, or maybe you’ve even had a bad experience with them one way or another. When I’ve contacted Amazon customer service, they have always been more than helpful. I’ve never done this via social media, but who knows? There’s always a fist time for everything. And as @AmazonHelp clearly shows, that first time will be answered in time at all.

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CNET to Go

Satisfy Your Taste for Tech

Like tech, tech news, and all things tech? Then head over to CNET if you have yet to experience its glory and wonder. What is CNET? Well, according to their very own electronic lips:

CNET tracks all the latest consumer technology breakthroughs and shows you what’s new, what matters, and how technology can enrich your life. We give you the information, tools, and advice that will help you decide what to buy and how to get the most out of the tech in your life.

For me, CNET is a part of my daily routine. (And by daily routine, I mean hourly routine. And by hourly routine, I mean hourly addiction.) CNET is filled with reviews, news and almost anything and everything you could want to ingest on the latest and the greatest in the world of what is awesome and innovative. But for a site all about tech, how do they measure up on social media?

BOGO Mobile

And by social media,  I mean Facebook and Twitter mobile. Take a gander at CNET’s pages:

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The consistency across platforms was greatly appreciated. The cover and avatar photos matched, and they appeared optimized for the small screen. Given the fact the CNET is in the business of purveying content, one would hope that they present said content in a reasonable (and by reasonable, I mean mobile-friendly) fashion. And they don’t disappoint.

Carefully Crafted Content 

As you can see from the three CNET articles below, CNET is catering not only to those browsing on their computers, but to those perusing on their mobiles devices as well. The content intelligently scaled to fit my screen, and the text was easy to read. Links to other articles were well placed and readily accessible, and nothing felt cramped or misplaced.

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Food for Thought

Based on CNET’s content, I would say that they pay careful attention to an audience that is migrating to mobile. While the majority of those in the tech community still own laptops or even desktop computers, there are many who conduct much of their day to day activities on smartphones and tablets. CNET lets you have your tech cake and eat it to, whether sipping coffee at your computer or standing in line to purchase said coffee (and by coffee, I mean ambrosia of the gods).

Apple Watch Times Two: A Follow-Up Campaign on Instagram

Apples to Apples

Verily, I am blogging about the world-renowned tech company Apple once again. If you’d like to bite into more info on this company, as well as the first part of this mock social media marketing campaign, you can find my previous blog post here (or scroll down on the homepage of my blog).

Things have changed since my last blog post, though. Spring is in the air, and the Apple Watch has been sprung upon the public. If you wish to see what Apple has introduced to the world, then feel free to pluck the fruit of their labors from their online store starting on April 10—though it won’t actually be shipping until April 24.

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While the Apple Watch has yet to hit consumers’ wrists, Apple’s product itself is no longer a tantalizing mystery waiting to be served up. With this fact in mind, I’ll be using the current knowledge available about the Apple Watch to craft a second portion to my campaign using the social media platform Instagram.

Wait: Who Wants an Apple Watch?

No, really. The abundance of wearables from the Pebble to Samsung Galaxy Gear to Android Wear have demonstrated that there is indeed a large market for wearable tech, but who is going to be clamoring after what Apple has to sell? According to Mike Elgan of the news site eWeek, millions of people will be! As he puts it:

My prediction is that the Apple Watch will sell better than all previous smartwatches combined within a few days of its release . . . If the Apple Watch were merely something people need it would be a lot cheaper. But like all the over-priced things in our lives, the Apple Watch is something that makes us feel good, and that’s why we’ll buy it.

Elgan makes quite the claim. Should it come true, then we could expect Apple to try to market the Apple Watch to the masses at large, as they have done with many of their products (see last week’s blog again for more on Apple’s previous marketing efforts). But Apple isn’t just aiming for the standard consumer this time. They are seeking higher clientele as well.

The Apple Watch will be released in three iterations that each come with their own complimentary price tags: the Apple Watch Sport, ranging from $349-$399, the Apple Watch, ranging from $549-$1,099, and the Apple Watch Edition, ranging from a mere $10,000-$17,000. This Apple Watch Edition is clearly meant to appeal to those with bounteous billfolds, and according to Tim Moynihan of Wired, it will.

So who will my target market be? To be as unspecific as possible, I’d say anyone and everyone. At least, when it comes to socioeconomic status and wealth. By using Instagram, I will be able to target a desirable generally younger audience (those ages 18-29) while still keeping my horizons open for everyone from the Apple inductee who ops for the Apple Watch Sport to the wealthy celebrity who flaunts a rose gold Apple Watch Edition.

WatchVarieties

 

A Campaign to Watch

In first chunk of my campaign, I was seeking to get a younger target audience of adults 18-24 interested in and excited about the Apple Watch. For this campaign, the goal is similar, but also looks to take things a step further. I want to give the Apple Watch as much exposure as it can have while also continuing to associate it with its most inherent feature: keeping track of time. But how can this be done?

Beginning on April 10 when preorders for the Apple Watch commence, and ending six months after the Apple Watch goes on sale, the campaign will encourage Instagram users to post pictures of themselves and their Apple Watches every Wednesday, using the hashtag #AppleWatchWed. Every Thursday, several Apple employees will pick their favorite pics and send five winners a $100 iTunes gift card. This contest will not only ensure that photos of the Apple Watch appear frequently on Instagram users timelines (you will be able to post as many pictures/enter the contest as many times as you would like), but also cause those using Instagram to associate Wednesdays with the Apple Watch.

The ultimate goal of this association and exposure is, of course, that those on Instagram will see the Apple Watch in action and be persuaded to investigate it further and hopefully purchase it. When users see how many of those they follow have Apple Watches, they too may wish to join the crowd and procure their own Apple Watch. The association of Apple Watches with Wednesdays will also create a longevity for the identity of the product itself, as even after the campaign is finished Instagram users will think of the Apple Watch for many a Wednesday to come.

Making the Most of Posts

At the beginning of the campaign, from the time pre-ordering begins until the Apple Watch actually ships, Apple will post each Wednesday one to two pics of Apple employees wearing the Apple Watch. The posts will mention the upcoming contest, giving more information as the campaign continues. For example, an earlier post could merely promote the product and the hashtag:

  • [Picture of wrist with Apple Watch near microwave] Counting down the seconds until my mac and cheese is ready #AppleWatchWed

While a post closer to launch date could say:

  • [Picture of thumbs up with Apple Watch on wrist and other hand holding $100 iTunes gift card] Want to win $100 iTunes gift card? Post a pic of your Apple Watch on #AppleWatchWed [Link to contest webpage]

Once the Apple Watch begins shipping, Apple could post either on Tuesday, looking forward to the next day, or Wednesday, giving even more specific info on the contest itself. Here’s how it could look:

  • [Picture of five $100 iTunes gift cards and hand with Apple Watch beckoning towards them] You could win one of five $100 iTunes gift cards by posting a pic of your Apple Watch on #AppleWatchWed. See link for complete contest details and rules. [Link to contest webpage]

This campaign would work well with my previous campaign as it would hit a similar but different target audience, and as both campaigns could reference each other. If Apple wished, they could incorporate the #AppleWatchWed into their other marketing platforms (whether on social media or not), but I don’t think that it would be necessary to carry this campaign.

Making the Campaign a Success

In order to succeed with the campaign, Apple would need to account for several factors. First, they would have to have sufficient employees to monitor and update the Instagram page. As they currently do not have an Instagram account, they most likely would have to hire several individuals in order to create and cultivate their page as well as their content. These employees would also be responsible for awarding the gift cards each week.

Second, Apple would need to arrange funds necessary not only to employ these individuals, but to pay for the $100 iTunes gift cards as well. At $500 a week for 24 weeks, that $12,000 worth of iTunes content. Finally, Apple would need to have the appropriate tools in place in order to create their content and monitor the results of their contest.

And how would Apple monitor the results of their contest? Well, first off, they could use a tool such as Talkwalker, RebelMouse, or Tagboard to measure the responses to the contest as well as observe conversations happening in relation to #AppleWatchWed. After this, they could keep track of the actual sales of the Apple Watch in order to see if there were any correlation between this social media marketing campaign and the overall sales performance of the Apple Watch. They would be able to measure these sales against predicted sales as well as wearable sales of competitors such as Google, Samsung, and Pebble.

Now comes the big question: Would the campaign be a success? And if it were, how would one know? While I could not say for sure if a campaign such as this would directly increase sales of the Apple Watch, I am certain that it would increase the exposure of Apple’s freshest product as well as the social media conversations happening around it. While an outcome such as this may not have an initial impact on the success of Apple as a company, it would be a worthwhile investment into their future. But you never know. If I saw that a number of my friends owned an Apple Watch, wouldn’t I at least be interested to see what all of the fuss was about? You know, I might even sink my teeth into it if it looked sweet enough.

Apple Watch: A Mock Social Media Marketing Campaign on Twitter

There’s Nothing Fruity Here

Regardless of your personal taste for Apple, the Cupertino-based tech giant, the statistics don’t lie: This company is hot, innovation or not. Apple has become a household name through the proliferation of their devices, ranging from desktop iMac computers to productivity-geared iPads to the ubiquitous iPhone. While not everyone has taken a bite of their wares, nearly all have smelled the alluring scent that comes along with the Apple brand.

Since the death of Apple’s founder Steve Jobs in October 2011, the company has been far less surefooted than before, dealing with software fiascos such as the initial release of Apple Maps to increased competition from companies like Samsung and Google. But many would say that Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook has finally come into his own, propelling Apple forward, if not in actual technology then at least in product desirability and overall sales.

But it would appear that once again, Apple is branching out. The Apple Watch is set to debut this April, and while the market for wearable tech is hardly new, it is still quite green in the leaf. Many experts say that despite setbacks, the Apple Watch will be a success. But how will Apple choose to market their product, and to whom will they market it?

For this blog, I’ll be creating a mock social media campaign on Twitter for the soon-to-be-here Apple Watch. It will by no means be exhaustive, but I’ll put my own innovation to the test to see what ideas bud in the world of social media and technology.

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Apple of the Consumer’s Eye

Who buys from Apple? All sorts of people! But that earth-shattering generalization does nothing for our Twitter campaign. We need cold, hard demographic and psychographic facts about Apple’s target market.

Brandon Gaille, “The Business Internet Marketing Expert.” published an article on his site detailing the demographics that Apple aims it bow at when preparing to let loose another rendition of the iPhone. He writes:

Many businesses use Apple products because they have a higher quality that makes them incredibly useful and reliable . . . Parents are another target demographic because the iPhone can be used as an educational tool thanks to apps that teach phonics, reading, and math . . . People aged 25-34 are the most likely to own an iPhone, followed by the 18-24 age group. Interestingly enough, the 18-24 group is more likely to own an Android and the 25-34 group is second in this demographic . . . The older someone is, the more likely they are to own an iPhone over an Android if they choose to own a smartphone.

Based off of this twig of information, it would appear that in general, Apple customers seek higher quality products, are more likely to own Apple products the older they are, and are often 25-34 years old, or right around the age of having children.

While I do want to address this audience with our campaign, my target market is different, perhaps somewhat ambitious: I want to try to appeal to individuals 18-24. Why?, you ask with a certain degree of skepticism in your voice. Well, I answer, I want to try to appeal to this audience so that even if they are not the largest purchaser of the Apple Watch, they can help establish it as a product that is part of a lifestyle rooted in youth and culture, a lifestyle that will cause them to feel connected to the Apple Watch and its role in their day-to-day lives.

Apple Pie in the Sky

I know that this is a lofty goal, but Apple has had a way of subverting consumer expectations in the past, so why not continue now? Let’s clarify my vision for this campaign, though. Apple serves its customers well, and therefore has a large base of loyal fans and those in its target demographic who will readily purchase its products. I want to try to create a new essence for Apple, though. Apple already has the cool, quality vibe down pat, but they are lacking in the “I need this product” department for most of their younger consumers.

This campaign will use the Apple Watch to create an identity for the young adult, an identity inseparable from an Apple Watch and an Apple lifestyle. This campaign is about planting ideological seeds and watching them grow.

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The Fresh Campaign

The Twitter campaign itself will focus on integrating the real-time nature of Twitter with the idea of the Apple Watch and time itself. The campaign will seek to show consumers how the Apple Watch is not only useful, but also practical and desirable in any and every part of their days.

The tweets for this campaign will be from the perspective of the Apple Watch itself, or rather @AppleWatch. The watch would discuss its daily routines and notes of interest relating to its use by its owner, @Jamie, infusing pertinent product info and periodically including a call to action. Several example tweets for this idea are:

  • A good morning can make the whole day! Helped @Jamie wake up feeling fully rested [Link to sleep tracker in Apple Watch] #BreakfastTime #AppleTime
  • @Jamie couldn’t decide on a scarf or not, so I helped out with some suggestions from the Weather Channel [Link to Weather Channel app] #ScarfSeason #AppleTime
  • Why are knuckles so bony? They look like little mountaintops [Picture of knuckles photoshopped to look like mountain scenery] #AppleTime
  • @Jamie doesn’t always notice when the iPhone goes off, so I’ve dedicated myself to making sure that no message gets past me! [Picture of important message to Jamie] #GotYourBack #AppleTime

Apple would also make an account for @Jamie, a gender-neutral Apple Watch wearer, who would respond to and interact with the tweets from the Apple Watch. An example response to the first post would be:

  • Just made eggs, bacon and toast with @AppleWatch! [Picture of breakfast and hand with Apple Watch] #GoodMorning #AppleTime

@Jamie would continue to interact with the @AppleWatch throughout the course of the campaign and eventually, other characters could be added to the mix, bringing more humor and a more robust story to the Twitter campaign.

Creative vines would also be used alongside of the tweets, integrating videos from @AppleWatch’s perspective as well as @Jamie’s perspective throughout their days. These videos could also play off of each other, as well as demonstrate key features of the Apple Watch that would make it desirable for consumers.

To create this campaign, of course, would take resources. A small number of employees could upkeep the accounts for @AppleWatch and @Jamie, but Apple would need more employees to create the vines in interesting and professional ways. Proper equipment would also be needed, and of course, money would have to be involved to create the vines, any graphics, take photos, and brainstorm new ideas for the Apple Watch. The cost of this campaign would not be great, but it would need to be organized and properly staffed in order to be effective and engaging.

Crab Apple or Sweet Victory?

Now that we have a campaign, we have to be able to see if it is effective. Apple currently has no main Twitter account as well as no Twitter accounts like the @AppleWatch and @Jamie accounts. Therefore, it may be difficult to declare a starting point for measuring any metrics for this campaign against prior Apple social media campaigns.

In order to get a better view of our success, though, we will compare our audience’s engagement and our growth of followers with some of our biggest competitors, such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and others. Benchmarks of the industry in general could also be good to use, but as this campaign is rather unique, they may only be cursory in their ability to evaluate its success.

We will measure the results of the campaign through the number of favorites, replies, and retweets that the accounts receive, as well as monitor other social media platforms for commotion over the @AppleWatch and @Jamie accounts. We will also use trackable links to see how many individuals are visiting the sites in our tweets. As the campaign progresses, we will continue to refine these metrics and adjust them accordingly.

Do I think that this campaign will be a success? I do. I am not sure if it would drive large increases in the number of Apple Watches sold, but if done right, it could be a good way to connect with the 18-24 demographic and get them thinking about the impact that wearable tech from Apple can have on their lives.

That is what Apple has been good at doing: Impacting the public’s perception of what is essential to their lives. And I think that with the right campaign, a campaign that meets the consumers where they are, that this could continue to happen. But we’ll see how far the apple falls from the tree.

A Visual Success: Canon Fires and Hits with YouTube

The Name Game

Hey there. Name a camera company that isn’t Canon. (Pause as necessary here.) Finished? Perhaps you came up with Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax, Olympus, Kodak or any other number of established technology and camera companies out there. Now disregard these companies. I’m sure you were able to name at least one or two of them, but you know what? I’d wager you could have named Canon as well.

Few would dispute that Canon is one of the best established and most renowned camera companies in the world. While photographers and videographers alike will swear by their own brands and gear, Canon has been getting things right for quite some time. That’s not to say they’re everyone’s favorite, or that they’re on the bleeding edge of innovation. It would appear, though, that they are at least sharp enough to avoid being put on everyone’s chopping block.

But as with any company on this blog, Canon is only worth its weight in media prowess, i.e. reposts, upvotes, likes, comments, views, leads, sales, and what not. So how does a company that brings cameras to general consumers and professionals go about featuring their products and promoting their presence online, let’s say, in the video-verse that is YouTube?

A Snapshot of CanonUSA

If you wish to visit Canon in the wonderful screen-spun land of YouTube, you can find them under the name CanonUSA or click on this conveniently placed link, this one, right here, (where is it? I can’t seem to find—ah there it is), you got it.

Upon first glance, you will notice that Canon’s YouTube homepage is well-organized and executed, filled with interesting content and useful links.

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Well, interesting if you happen to be a camera geek (like myself) or one of Canon’s consumers (also, not surprisingly, myself). Who exactly are Canon’s consumers, though?

With the coming-of-age of smartphone cameras, the digital camera industry has been on the fritz, trying to retain its conventional consumers while convincing perspective buyers why a bulky, expensive device that only takes pictures and video is better than a pocket phone and computer device that they already own and happens to have a built-in high-quality camera. According to an article from CNBC, the market for traditional point-and-shoot cameras is steadily declining, hurting companies like Canon. The target markets for these cameras are flocking to their smartphones, leaving the days of carrying a camera and a phone far behind. That’s not the case for all digital camera markets, though.

The article goes on to say that recently, a new breed of middle-class consumers has arisen, opting to completely skip entry-level cameras and begin with DSLRs and other compact cameras. This target market is made up of individuals who appreciate good photography and are willing to or have the means to purchase more expensive, but much higher quality, cameras. They generally appreciate a good smartphone camera, but they also understand the opportunities that came with versatile cameras such as DSLRs and high-quality mirror-less cameras.

Canon does a great job of appealing to these consumers with their YouTube page. It is jam-packed with content that is both useful and entertaining. Canon also manages to appeal to the professionals who use their products. They have taken the time to create visuals that are interesting and playlists that are well-organized, and they consistently update their content, their most recent upload being only about a day old at the time of writing this blog post.

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Canon has clearly invested the time and resources into their YouTube page to make it worthwhile for both general consumers and professional consumers to visit it, providing them with video content of all kinds and useful links to Canon’s other social media pages, as well as their main websites and the Canon Digital Learning Center. But now it’s time for another question (because I clearly don’t ask enough of those). Namely, is Canon engaging their audience in a way that garners the interaction they seek?

Picture-Perfect or Fuzzy Results?

On most of their videos, Canon has received several thousand views and around one or two dozen comments, as well as about 100 likes or dislikes. However, some videos have millions of views, others hundreds of comments and likes or dislikes, and others very little response at all. Based upon an Canon’s 10 most recent videos, Canon has an average engagement of around 120 comments and/or likes or dislikes per video. If this is factored with Canon’s nearly 73,000 channel subscribers, they have a content engagement rate of only 0.16 percent, far from the average for most companies of their size.

But this is YouTube, and while engagement via comments and likes or dislikes is important, views are perhaps the most telling metric for understanding consumer engagement. On their channel, Canon has almost 51 million views, or almost 700 video views for each channel subscriber. Certainly, each subscriber did not view Canon’s videos 700 times, but this does let us know that while the comment and like or dislike engagement for each of Canon’s videos is not ideal, they are still receiving a good number of views compared to their subscriber base.

Looking at these numbers, it would appear that Canon is using YouTube more as a hosting platform than an engagement platform. They are interested in providing their content to their target audiences, but they aren’t necessarily looking for audience engagement to win the day. Perhaps their other social media pages and their main sites are more desirable for interacting with customers, or perhaps their target audience is also not interested in engagement via YouTube. While I love finding great camera advice online, I am usually not looking for ways to engage with the content creator alongside of the content itself.

Good Social Media is Worth a Thousand Views

Canon has got something good going here. While their engagement is not always ideal, their channel view count is comfortably high, and they have provided potential and current customers with both entertaining and useful resources to use as they desire. Their YouTube page is nothing innovative or game-changing, but it serves its purpose well and is a breath of fresh air from many of the sad excuses for YouTube pages that abound. I may be a consumer of their technology myself, but after looking at Canon’s YouTube presence, I may become a consumer of their bountiful content as well. After all, one can never watch too many videos about cameras that are used to make videos about cameras and their video possibilities. At least, that’s what I say.

The Social Media (Political) Campaign of Sony’s The Interview

First, Some Context

Have you seen it? Do you plan to see it? No, I’m not talking about the Transit of Venus; I’m talking about Sony’s comedy The Interview. Officially released through Columbia Pictures, The Interview made quite the splash, even though someone (perhaps North Korea) decided to try to puncture the kiddie pool before swim-time was over. If you haven’t been on the up-and-up about what happened over the past few months, feel free to visit USA Today’s timeline detailing the events surrounding Sony’s hack and how it was related to the release of The Interview.

Varying degrees of speculation and certainty aside, the real questions is: How has Sony responded to all the hubbub? Any mainstream movie made today will have a some kind of social media campaign behind it, but how did Sony pull this off for their (apparently) volatile film?

Before the hack, The Interview was being pushed through such platforms as one would expect for a nation-wide release. Sony had Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages churning out content, as well as a YouTube channel for movie trailers. This, however, all changed after said hack. When Sony was put between a rock and a hard cyberspace, they decided to take down the website dedicated to The Interview as well as their social media accounts. This, however, all changed once again.

Mere days after Sony’s decision to pull the movie altogether, prompts from the U.S. government (and most likely the Internet) convinced Sony to release the movie, in theaters and online, and thus reinstate The Interview‘s social media accounts. Since that time, these accounts have been up and running, carrying out a campaign that became far more politically charged than Sony ever intended.

Next, Some Social Media

Now that you’re caught up to speed, do me a favor and take a look at some of Sony’s social media pages for their film:

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These pages are very uniform in their presentations, and they create a nice synergy, pointing the viewers to more content as well as ways to purchase or rent the movie.

Let’s not delve too far into the campaign itself yet, though (clearly, I have not caught you up to speed enough). Let’s ask ourselves a question for the ages: And by that, I really mean a question of ages. Namely, who is Sony targeting with The Interview and thus their social media campaign?

Now, Some More Context

According to a 2012 survey conducted by Nielsen, fifty percent of U.S. moviegoers claimed that comedy was one of their favorite genres to see in theaters. So around half of the moviegoing U.S. population enjoys comedies, a rather non-laughable number of people. The MPAA released some more specific numbers on U.S. and Canada moviegoers in 2013. Those most likely to see movies are between the ages of 25-39, with those aged 18-24 coming in second place. The gender spread of moviegoers is almost evenly split.

For The Interview, though, one major distribution source was online streaming. As I’ve talked about in a previous blog post, adults aged 18-24 are the most likely to watch content online. Thus, moviegoing and media conscious adults aged 18-24 would seem to be the cream of the crop when it comes to a target audience for Sony and The Interview. This audience would not only be likely to watch it in theaters, but would be even more likely to stream or purchase it online. Interestingly (but not surprisingly) enough, this demographic also happens to utilize social media to a high degree, making such a campaign from Sony more than worthwhile.

A Social Media Strategy

Now that our quest for context is complete, what could we say is Sony’s social media campaign strategy for The Interview? I would suggest, as with most movies, that their goal is to generate a multitude of conversations about The Interview, its unique release, and perhaps even its dramatic history. Thanks to publicity from the news and other traditional media sources, Sony has had a helping hand in creating these conversations, but their social media campaign is what is keeping them going strong.

Speaking of traditional media sources, Sony chose to do nothing out of the ordinary for the traditional media campaign of The Interview, running the standard TV commercials and movie trailers in theaters. As is also usual, they did little with print advertising, as many magazines will generate free publicity through their movie reviews. In short, Sony did not have to capitalize on traditional media; they simply had to provide access to the movie itself, as practically everyone else was generating the buzz for their controversial comedy.

A Social Media Undertaking

As you can see in the screenshots above, Sony chose to go with conventional social media platforms for The Interview. But conventional certainly doesn’t mean ineffective. Twitter and YouTube are especially popular with their target 18-24 demo, and Sony has provided relatively consistent amounts and quality of content from these sources, as well as from their Facebook and Google+ pages.

As an added bonus, Sony’s choice of platforms makes it easy and straightforward to respond to and repost messages from their campaign. As you can check out for yourself on Twitter, their #TheInterview hashtag continues to generate a lot of responses. Using Twitter and these other tried-and-true social media outlets, Sony has scored big with their campaign, and likely their take at box office.

A Social Media Outcome

This just all goes to show that while the circumstances of The Interview‘s arrival to the public were less than usual, a consistent and straightforward social media campaign has worked well for this film. As an interesting side note, conversations about The Interview continued popping up all over social media while I was writing this blog, as Sony once again got (essentially) free publicity for their flick. “How did this happen?” You hear yourself wonder aloud. “I’ll elaborate this for you,” I respond silently.

If you happened to be watching television on the night of February 1, 2015, then you may have noticed that Katy Perry performed at the Super Bowl. One of the primary gags in The Interview revolves around Kim Jung Un’s love for Katy’s music, so Sony was able to capitalize on her performance and bring more attention to their film while also giving plaudits to Perry. I’d say that’s a win-win situation for both teams (the results of the big game aside).

It’s true, The Interview is not a movie for everybody. In fact, its most notable accomplishment has been its fascinating history and release. But as far as social media goes, Sony did an excellent job of capturing the buzz around their movie and keeping that buzz going. And who knows? They may have more up their sleeve as they continue to roll-out various releases for The Interview. Though you have to wonder, can a company even have sleeves?

A Blog Post About ILC Films’ Blog and Blog Posts

A Blog Post

Yes, I know you know that what you are reading happens to be a blog post. But today I will be talking about blogs and blog posts, so I have to make sure to say “blog” as many times as is possible in any one blog post.

Now on with it. ILC Films is a wedding videography company based in Austin, Texas. According to their website:

ILC Films is a talented team of cinematographers . . . With over 5 years of experience, I can honestly say we all get excited for each and every wedding we film . . . We tell our stories as elegantly and unobtrusively as possible. Our films capture the events we cover precisely as they happen.

ILC Films has some very high quality work on their site. If you have the time, I would recommend taking a look at a few of the videos they’ve done. But what about their social media presence? How apt are they when it comes to, let’s say… blogging? (Act surprised. You know you want to.)

A Blog

ILC Films’ blog landing page is somewhat minimalist, though in a very prim and pressed way. The menu header that adorns their website keeps a consistent feel for the blog, though the rest of their website is much more visually engrossing. The chat tab in the bottom right corner is not obtrusive like some I’ve encountered, because it hides itself after several seconds of page exposure. The blog’s overall feel and branding matches the rest of their website: subdued, elegant, and easy to ingest. Below you’ll find a quick look at the landing page:

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ILC Film’s blog is quite new, as scrolling down the page reveals three posts from January 2015, the most recent from January 26, and one FAQ post from November 2014. Thus, while the frequency of their blog posts is not yet at an ideal point, the recency of their posts is excellent and better than many other small companies.

The blog posts themselves are almost identical in look and feel to their landing page counterparts. What, you require another picture? Alright, here’s a specific blog post:

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Let’s play spot the differences. Take a sharpie and circle the differences between the pictures on your device’s screen. How many did you find? If the answer is three, you win! (But only if you disregarded what I said about the sharpie.)

If it weren’t for the change in page title, the disappearance of the chat tab and the slight change in subtitle links, you might think that I had pulled a fast one on you. Now the real questions is, does the near identical nature of these pages detract from the blog? For me, it does not; though I do wish I could click on the “Our Blog” page title on the blog post page to take me back to the blog landing page.

A Blog Post Breakdown

The content of ILC Film’s blog is organized in two ways: By archival date, as can be seen on the right side of their landing page, and by tags, similar to how YouTube helps organize its content. Here you can see the tags from the bottom of the blog page that you just looked at mere moments ago:

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 5.59.56 PM

 

While these tags do little for the organization of ILC Films’ blog right now, they will certainly be helpful as more content is created. The only author for the blog posts at this point is ILC Films, so no distinction by author is yet necessary. And though there is not specific differentiation between the types of content on their blog, the two types of content they do have are either informative stories about their work for their clients or the single FAQ post. As ILC Films continues to grow their blog, I’d love to see some more variety in what they post, though undoubtedly their client work stories could serve as the bread and butter of their content.

The limited content that ILC Films does have on its blog all points to its main (if not only) target market: those looking to get married. According to an article by the Pew Research Center, the average age for marriage in the United States is currently about 27 years old for women and 29 years old for men. That means that adults in their late twenties are the main target market for ILC Films and its blog. So what is their blog doing to reach this audience?

Specifically, there is nothing that leaps out at me, screaming, “This content is for adults in their late twenties looking to get married!” Then again, ILC Films’ target market is very broad in its demographics, meaning that it could be difficult for them to pinpoint a specific type or style of content to best reach their main audience. The content that they do have includes many components that those looking to get married could certainly benefit from, though. By placing the client videos at the top of the blog posts, they emphasize their content quality and style. Each blog post also includes links to all of the individuals involved with the planning of each wedding that they shoot, making these posts potential treasure troves of resources for those looking for help with a wedding. The FAQ, while only one post, is also useful for anyone with questions about ILC Films’ services.

You may have noticed in the last picture that you can leave a comment at the bottom of each blog post. This is a great call to action, though I wish there were more ways to interact with ILC Films, especially when it comes to sharing their posts on social media. I could not for the life of me find any way to share a post directly to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site. And even though the comment section for each post is a great start, unfortunately, none of the posts have comments yet.

A Blogger’s Opinion

So what’s my consensus? ILC Films has a promising blog that could continue to grow in numerous ways. The content they do have is applicable to their target market and is pleasing to look at, but they need to continue to amass more of it and provide ways for individuals (such as myself) to share their blog posts and interact with them as a company. While maintaining a blog as a small company can be difficult and time-consuming, it can be equally rewarding, and I hope that ILC Films will continue to do great wedding videos, captured in an ever-growing and blossoming blog.